Means of Meandering
Allen sang the words of an unfamiliar melody. “Venture, bold through the world ye seek; ‘til three rocks trip ye – trouble greet.” The sparsely illuminated castellated village was just in sight in the valley below.
“What nonsense is that,” Colina asked, counting the coins in her pouch while Behaim and Ilda prepared their sleeping place.
Jalem stole a glance Allen and Desmon’s way. “All the times we discussed, recited and performed ‘The Three Falls of Trippance,’ and you have to ask,” Jalem inquired, disappointment in her voice.
Desmon grunted. “I told you of ‘The Three Flats Back,’ did I not?”
Colina counted her coins again, not making eye contact with either instructor. “The poem was stupid and I thought you said “The Three Flatbacks.” Everyone knows they’re undesirables and that nothing-.”
Allen rested his elbows on his knees, the reflection of dancing flames in his glasses. “The Wanders’ Warning’ speaks of Quinton’s Charms in keeping the traveler safe. Behaim?”
The young man cleared his throat. “The first stumble is from fatigue or orneriness because the traveler is not alert enough of their surroundings, regardless of how familiar the path.”
Ilda added, “The second stumble is from stubbornness or trepidation because the traveler knows that what they are ignoring is dangerous.”
The silence lingered as the third student chose avoidance again. Desmon sent a length of flame to heat the coins to an unbearable temperature. “The third ‘Flat Back’ is because of trouble or treason in defying what Quinton has planned for you – be it returning to face fears or fulfilling obligations. Tell us, Miss Colina, how many times have you stumbled during this journey?”
Jalem wrapped the young girl’s treasures in water, a current cloaking them beyond reach. “Colina, this is a serious question, for all of us.”
Allen folded his hands together. “Thrice.” Before she could protest, he continued. “You fell three times before I could finally turn you back towards home. It’s that same look in your eye, that same flicking of your thumb against forefinger and that same twitch of the lip that-.”
“So? So what if I stumbled? What’s the big deal?”
Behaim and Ilda packed everything they had, except for the basics. Allen and Jalem secured their camp with additional spells.
Desmon pushed himself up and in a matter of strides, he dragged Colina to her feet and shook her. “You fool! In all these cautionary stories, the traveler who continued, despite the three charms to turn back – they died! Anyone with them who continued, who failed to guide them back – they all died!”
“Desmon,” Jalem said, separating them. “We’ll leave at suns’ first light, that’s all.”
“You hope,” he said.
**Today’s snippet was influenced by The Daily Post Prompt – Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.”**